Tuesday, 2 October 2012

# 114 Jack the Ripper makes his way to York

At some point in their life everyone belongs to a club. Mine was Jack the Ripper. It became a fascination when I was 12 and it's been a part of my life more or less ever since.

My early days were spent with researchers, writers and theorists in London, attending the first club that was set up for it - the 'Cloak and Dagger Club' founded by Mark Galloway in 1994, and writing articles for the magazine which grew out of it - 'Ripperologist'.

Later on I became an organiser of the already established official conferences, first in 2003 in Liverpool, then Brighton in 2005 and Wolverhampton in 2007. Our attendee numbers surpassed 100 delegates proving that interest in the subject just doesn't end. Each location had some connection to the case and we drew people from all over the world to a weekend long package of lectures and visits. In the alternate years US members organised their own version, three of which I managed to get to in New Jersey and Baltimore.

Since 2007 life in the world of 'Ripperology' has continued. There have been two conferences in London and the club continues to meet. But for several reasons I took a back step and I've been out of the loop for 6 years now.

Last weekend saw the first full weekend conference in that time. It took place in York, hosted by a new organisational team spearheaded by Colin and Ricky Cobb and Adam Wood. Somehow I managed to achieve the status of co-organiser and although I wasn't intrumental in helping to set up this event, it was interesting to take part as a delegate and see how things went.

I've been really impressed and inspired. More than 60 people turned out to make the event a huge success. We were graced with some truly fascinating speakers from those interested in the case history itself, to authors, theorists and those with a more formal interest in the subject such as profiler Laura Richards, who up until 2007 worked for Scotland Yard and has profiled on some very famous modern murder cases.

We were also treated to an open top bus tour of York, a medieval style banquet and enough food to sink the Titanic! It's not all formal lectures you see.

Thanks to our speakers John Bennett, Robert Anderson, Robert Smith, Trevor Bond, Trevor Marriott, Lindsey Siviter, Neal Storey, Rob House, Martin Fido and Laura Richards for a huge range of fascinating talks from suspect cases to the latest criminal profiling.

Our conference speakers
Top row: Robert Anderson, Trevor Marriott, John Bennett, Lindsey Siviter, Neal Storey
Bottom row: Rob House, Trevor Bond, Martin Fido, Laura Richards

As the weekend progressed it became clear that my role as delegate wasn't going to remain that way for long. At the end of the conference the 125th anniversary event next year had been announced (see below) and I had been persuaded to rejoined the team. It's exciting and I'm looking forward to working with some great people on what is going to be a truly massive London conference. So get it into your diaries!

Huge thanks to Ricky and Colin Cobb who took on the mantle of official organisers to keep the conference alive. To Adam Wood for being there 'still' as one of the original organisers and providing his technical skill for the presentations which are always so highly polished. To Jenni and Neal Shelden for their assistance and contribution to the weekend's organisation and printed material. And to everyone who turned out. Because without the delegates it would never be the success it is.

If you are interested in finding out more about next year's conference join the Facebook group here. Hopefully we will see some of you there next year.

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